E3 Hands-on – Overkill’s The Walking Dead
I never got into the zombie craze, nor ever enjoyed the actual Walking Dead series. Pretty anticlimatic intro, don’t you think? Well, it’s true: I remember watching a few episodes back in the day and just finding the TV show “ok”. I remember playing the Telltale game and finding it just “ok”. I have always been a bigger fan of comedic takes on the zombie apocalypse genre: Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, Dead Rising, those were my jams. Nevertheless, given the fact I am a big fan of the Pay Day games developed by Overkill Software, I was looking forward to playing their upcoming Walking Dead game at Starbreeze’s booth at E3 2018. For a non-fan of the whole zombie apocalypse craze, I have to admit I still enjoyed their take on the genre, with a few caveats.
What impressed me the most when playing Overkill’s The Walking Dead is how smoothly the developers have managed to adapt their team-based objective-focused gameplay onto a zombie apocalypse aesthetic. You still need to choose your class, you still need to work as a team (people trying to go full lone rebel would quickly get killed, I know because I did that), you still need to complete certain objectives, and you constantly need to communicate with each other. Overkill’s multiplayer formula is still great: talking to each other, trying to sneak past zombies and working together in order to overcome obstacles is still fun and engaging.
The team has managed to cleverly adapt the zombie apocalypse schtick of limited resources and avoiding combat at all costs into the game. There might be tons of zombies onscreen at any given point, but if you can avoid contact with them, or if you can take them down silently, that’s extremely advisable. Ammo is scarce, pistol suppressors don’t last for long, pickups are hard to find. This is one of the reasons my team all failed on our first run: we all went full guns blazing, only to pretty much lose all of our ammo in a matter of seconds. We quickly got surrounded by a mob of dozens upon dozens of starving zombies. After carefully planning and acknowledging our mistakes, we did manage to reach the end of the mission. It didn’t take long for the zombies to disappear and for actual humans holding guns to show up as enemies. This is the moment we were allowed to engaging in true Rambo fashion, thank goodness.
The game is fun and entertaining, but there are a few issues with it. First of all, the fact you’re pretty much defenseless when surrounded by zombies on the ground is a nuisance. You have to beg for a comrade to help you out, even though I had a melee weapon and a few pistol rounds to try to defend myself. Finally, the game is still a bit buggy. The framerate had some slight hiccups every now and then, and the game did crash once while I was playing it. I did read other E3 impressions about Overkill’s The Walking Dead and I’ve noticed those were common complaints, even though the game did run a LOT better for me when compared to other previews.
In the end, I can safely say I enjoyed enough of Overkill’s The Walking Dead‘s E3 demo to make me excited for the final product, slated for a November release. It did feature a few glitches, and it does need some extra tinkering, but the developers have clearly managed to adapt Pay Day’s unique multiplayer-focused gameplay onto a zombie apocalypse setting. It didn’t make me downright fall in love with the whole concept of fighting through hordes of zombies, and I doubt any game out there will ever manage to do so, but it did make me enjoy my experience when playing alongside other people. This might actually become a small multiplayer hit this holiday season.